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October 18, 2017

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Does Your Resume Showcase A Powerful Storyline?

Every day, we are bombarded with hundreds of advertisements, many with deceptively similar offerings and marketing messages. In an overcrowded marketplace, ultimately, the products or services that are most likely to cut through the clutter and win our business are the ones that deliver marketing pitches with a higher level of recall.

The hiring manager's dilemma can be likened to our own experience with television commercials and infomercials. An average hiring manager or recruiter may have to review hundreds (or even thousands) of resumes to select just a handful of promising candidates. Given the high volume of qualified applicants and the arduous struggle to sift the cream from the I-just-want-a-job-to-pay-my-bills applicants, what is one factor that can catapult a job seeker's resume to the "top picks" list? Recall!

After all, if an employer cannot recall your application from the pool of qualified resumes, it will just land up in overburdened resume storage and retrieval systems.

With double-digit unemployment rates and over 14.6 million unemployed professionals actively looking for work, it is very important to create a dynamite, clutter-cutting resume that will make a solid first impression. Accomplishments-focused statements with powerful storylines can make an indelible impact and improve your chances of winning an interview.

Consider the following tips to craft a compelling resume with a memorable storyline:

Avoid generic statements

Generic statements make it to the very top of my list of common resume gaffes. Very often I come across generic statements, such as "experienced professional seeking a mutually-beneficial and rewarding career opportunity with a company that offers room for advancement." Resume space is like prime real estate and this generic statement did not contribute to the candidate's pitch in any way. In fact, the sentence wasted valuable resume space that could have been used to position the candidate effectively.

Highlight the story behind every accomplishment

As professional resume writers, we generally try to create resumes with 80:20 accomplishments to job duties ratio. As important as it is to showcase accomplishments, it is equally important to highlight the story behind those accomplishments. As opposed to saying "Achieved 10% sales increase," use story-driven accomplishment statements as follows:

"Leveraged relationship management skills and rolodex of contacts to penetrate and influence hard-to-reach, Fortune 100 decision maker. Positioned and presented products to top-line managers to win major account that generated over $3 million in sales (10% sales increase over previous year)."

Use stories to position and differentiate yourself

Many job seekers harbor the fallacy that a well-written resume produces results. Sure, a well-written resume demonstrates professionalism and expertise, but it is equally important to use verbiage that positions you as the right candidate for the job. In other words, good writing must be married to effective marketing. The following example clarifies this concept:

It is not uncommon to come across resume statements, such as "Promoted to the position of COO within two years." Congratulations, Ms. COO! Don't forget, though, you will be competing against other C-level executives and your resume needs to be meatier.

Here's how you could give your promotion a spicier twist:

"As general manager of operations, led team of eight cross-functional professionals to seamlessly integrate $12 billion in assets across eighteen countries. Efforts were recognized by board of directors through promotion to COO position within two years -- a record in the company's thirty-year history."

In addition to making your message memorable, the right combination of career stories and accomplishments can enhance the overall appeal of your career marketing documents and position you as the perfect candidate for the employer's needs.

- Nimish Thakkar, Resume Writer and Career Coach

Nimish Thakkar is a sought-after career management coach and professional resume writer. He recently created DontSpendMore.com, a site that allows consumers to save hundreds of dollars every month. As a resume writer, he has helped thousands of clients through his sites, ResumeCorner.com and SaiCareers.com. Thakkar holds two graduate degrees, including an MBA. For a free resume evaluation, contact him at nimish@resumecorner.com

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